- whether you're using facebook marketplace, ebay, or craigslist, there are benefits and risks to buying or selling a car. scams and privacy concerns are high on the list of things to watch out for.
- facebook, for example, has a billion people using marketplace, and it relies on automated anti-fraud software as well as around 400 contract workers to police those transactions, according to a new propublica report.
- ebay offers an escrow service and can provide refunds, and craigslist now requires car sellers to pay for their listing, which has reduced fraud. but it still helps to educate yourself.
it's not easy to keep a billion people following the rules. that's the problem with facebook marketplace, which now has that many people on the site buying and selling goods. but success is no excuse for endangering users, which brings us to propublica's recent research on the social media giant and how facebook allowed thousands of marketplace listings that break the company's own rules, risking users' safety.
obviously, thousands of people have safely sold their car or truck using sites like marketplace or ebay or craigslist. and thousands more will. but not everyone, as a 2015 story from the atlanta journal-constitution shows. there, robbers used craigslist to offer deals on vehicles including a 2011 honda accord and a 2007 dodge caliber but requested the buyers show up with cash. then, when they did, the "sellers" instead robbed the interested buyers. stories like these are not hard to find, and may help encourage sellers and buyers to learn what safety measures are in place—and which actions it makes sense to take on their own—when car dealing online.
propublica notes that facebook uses a few different methods to keep marketplace safe and reliable. first, there is anti-fraud software to detect scams, but since this isn't the most accurate tech, facebook also uses around 400 accenture employees to "respond to user complaints and to review listings flagged by the software," propublica said. one of the problems here is that these employees were given access to facebook messenger inboxes, which led to them spying on people. a facebook spokesperson told propublica this access has been changed. another issue is that these 400 workers each need to deal with around 600 complaints or help requests a day, giving them less than a minute to deal with each one. propublica published its own guide giving tips to "avoid being scammed" on the marketplace that's worth a look.
craigslist and ebay, which have been in the classified sales game longer than facebook, seem to have better security measures in place. ebay offers an escrow service and will offer refunds if the sale ends up being fraudulent. craigslist now also charges people to list a car for sale, and that has lowered the amount of fraud happening on the site, experts told propublica.
we put together a list of 10 tips to successfully buy a car on craigslist six years ago, and the safety components we mentioned, like meeting in a public place, if possible, and creating a paper trail in case anything goes wrong, remain valuable. when it comes to buying a car or truck on facebook marketplace, facebook itself says that shoppers should "take some extra time and care" to better understand the deal and that keeping personal information and yourself safe should be a "top priority." there are similar bits of advice on third-party sites. home security company adt recommends seven steps to stay safe when selling items on craigslist (but most of them would work well on other sites as well), including using a proxy email address, trusting your instincts when it comes to meeting potential buyers and making sure the transaction is worth your time. given the prices of used cars these days, that last one is likely to be a resounding yes, but it's still important to keep in mind.